Established in 1890, Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo (YBA Kanoo) started from a humble trading and shipping enterprise founded in Bahrain by Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo. From Bahrain, the business spread to Saudi Arabia in the 1930s.
In 1967, Hamed Kanoo came from Saudi Arabia to the UAE to expand the family business. Having successfully established Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo (YBA Kanoo)’s operations in Khafji in the Kingdom, the company asked him to replicate the same in the UAE too. With only 5 people, including him, Hamed Kanoo put-up The Kanoo Group as a trade name in the UAE Map.
At present, The Kanoo Group operates in the UAE and Oman, with Mishal Hamed Kanoo serving as the Chairman, and over 1,200 employees working for its divisions.
The Kanoo family remained true to their early values. This adherence to ethics and beliefs made them an essential component of the regional business life.
One of the first industries that Kanoo excelled at was shipping. No one could have predicted that it would challenge the monopoly of long-established British companies and would become the largest regional shipping agency in the Middle East. Kanoo Shipping is one of the founders of S5 Agency World Ltd. and was the first Arab shipping agency in the region in 1911. At present, Kanoo Shipping operates in 20 countries and in all principal ports and offshore tanker loading terminals around the Arabian Peninsula, including Iraq. It handles 20,000 port calls every year, which covers all ports in the Suez to India range.
The historic rise of Kanoo Travel, on the other hand, has proven similarly impressive. The group’s interest in travel started in 1937, when the company used to provide refuelling facilities for Imperial Airlines’ sea-planes en route to India and Australia. In 1947, Kanoo Travel became the first IATA agency in the Gulf and became the very first travel company in the Middle East to receive the ISO certification in 1997.
The Group’s another success story began in mid-1960s. Kanoo Machinery used to supply construction and material handling equipment in the region. At that time, the UAE was just setting up its oil and gas industry and developing its infrastructure. By providing the government and private sectors with world-class equipment and services, Kanoo Machinery helped lay down the foundations of the vital sectors of UAE’s economy.
Today, for over 130 years, The Kanoo Group is amongst the most diversified and highly regarded business houses in the Gulf region and operates extensively throughout Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and Qatar. It has unremittingly grown its realm of businesses into various industries in shipping, travel, machinery, logistics, property, energy (oil & gas, power, water) industrial chemicals, training, joint ventures, retail, and commercial activities.
After successfully establishing YBA Kanoo’s operations in Khafji in Saudi Arabia, late Hamed Kanoo was asked to conquer the UAE market as well. Hamed, along with 4 other members, successfully put the Kanoo name in the UAE Map in 1967—making him the Founding Father of The Kanoo Group.
Growing the business was not easy but through hard work and dedication, Hamed established Kanoo as a trusted name in the country. His nephews, Khalid from Abu Dhabi and Yusuf from Oman later joined him in Dubai to grow the business further. Hamed Kanoo achieved all of this by following the Kanoo’s principles of honesty, trust and fairness.
Hamed Kanoo was known for his modesty and his love of life. He never differentiated between influential or poor people and would honour the person who valued him. He considered family as paramount and believed in keeping up with familial ideals. People remember him not only for his decision-making ability and business skills, but also for his fun-loving nature and presence. He is truly remarkable person, and his departure indeed left a huge hole in the lives of the people who personally knew him and loved him.
Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo served as the Chairman of The Kanoo Group from 1994 until the last day before he passed away in August 2014.
Mr. Kanoo was born in Manama in 1942 and received his secondary education in Bahrain and higher education in the UK. He earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from a university in Texas, USA.
Yusuf started his professional experience as THE Resident Director of Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo & Company in Muscat, Oman between 1976 and 1978. He moved to the UAE later on to serve as the Director of The Kanoo Group from 1979 to 1981 in Dubai. He then became the Group’s Director in Abu Dhabi from 1982 to 1984, and went back to Dubai to serve as the Managing Director from 1985 to 1993.
Yusuf became the Chairman of The Kanoo Group, UAE & Oman in 1994 after the death of the founding father, Hamed Kanoo.
Yusuf was also the Chairman of International Paint (Gulf) LLC, Maersk Kanoo (UAE) LLC and BASF Kanoo Gulf (LLC). Outside the group, he was a keen gardener, also enjoyed travelling with his wife.
Renowned for his wisdom and long experience in business, Yusuf was also kind-hearted, friendly and sociable, with a good sense of humour. He left behind a rich history of accomplishments and cherished memories.